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S&P 500   3,998.84
DOW   33,947.10
QQQ   287.64
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3 Signs the Stock Market Outlook is Improving
S&P 500   3,998.84
DOW   33,947.10
QQQ   287.64
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🚨 [Strong Buy Alert] Is this laser stock in your portfolio? (Ad)
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🚨 [Strong Buy Alert] Is this laser stock in your portfolio? (Ad)
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3 Signs the Stock Market Outlook is Improving

The PNC Financial Services Group Q4 2021 Earnings Call Transcript


Listen to Conference Call View Latest SEC 10-K Filing

Participants

Corporate Executives

  • Bryan K. Gill
    Executive Vice President and Director, Investor Relations
  • William S. Demchak
    Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Robert Q. Reilly
    Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Presentation

Bryan K. Gill
Executive Vice President and Director, Investor Relations at The PNC Financial Services Group

Well, good morning, and welcome to today's conference call for the PNC Financial Services Group. Participating on this call are PNC's Chairman, President and CEO, Bill Demchak; and Rob Reilly, Executive Vice President and CFO. Today's presentation contains forward-looking information. Cautionary statements about this information, as well as reconciliations of non-GAAP measures are included in today's earnings release materials, as well as our SEC filings and other investor materials. These materials are all available on our corporate website, pnc.com under Investor Relations. These statements speak only as of January 18, 2022, and PNC undertakes no obligation to update them.

Now, I'd like to turn the call over to Bill.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Thanks, Bryan, and good morning, everybody. As you've seen, we had a strong fourth quarter and full-year for 2021. We successfully completed the conversion of BBVA USA early in the fourth quarter and have been running hard as one bank since then. The transaction continues to meet or exceed our deal projections, and Rob will give you some of those details. I'm especially pleased by our ability to announce, close and convert a transaction of this size inside of 11 months. Challenges notwithstanding, we had the talent, the technology and the strategy to accomplish this and combine our organizations in a way that will provide growth opportunities for years to come.

The acquisition positions us with a coast-to-coast presence and along with our continued organic growth strategies, including our recent expansion into Las Vegas, we now have a presence in all of the top 30 U.S. markets. We're excited about the opportunity this presents and we are confident in our ability to generate growth by executing on our Main Street relationship-based model. That said, we recognize that we have a lot of work to do in building up the new and expansion markets, which will be our primarily focus in 2022. BBVA obviously impacted our results for the full-year and Rob will walk you through the details.

Excluding BBVA, we generated record revenue highlighted by strong non-interest income with broad-based contributions across our commercial and consumer businesses. We also maintained outstanding credit quality and a very strong capital position. While we continue to opportunistically deploy some of our excess cash into higher yielding securities throughout the year, we remain well positioned with substantial excess liquidity to capitalize on a rising interest rate environment.

Our reported results for the fourth quarter reflected the impact of almost $440 million of BBVA integration costs. Excluding these, we generated nearly $1.6 billion of net income and solid returns. Importantly, excluding the impact of PPP loan forgiveness, we saw a decent underlying loan growth trends and some uptick in utilization rates, which is very encouraging as Rob will discuss in more detail. Critical to our long-term success has been the quality and stability of our talent and we pride ourselves of being an employer of choice. Given the recent dynamics of the substantially increased competition for talent in part due to the Great Resignation, we experienced greater wage pressure during the fourth quarter and I expect that to persist into the coming year.

Naturally, we'll look to offset these increases with our continuous improvement efforts, which include driving further automation and rethinking core processes. We continue to invest in technology to enhance our capabilities in an increasingly digital world. Customers are looking to their financial providers to offer innovative tools that help them manage their money in ways that are faster, smarter, and more convenient, whether that be expanded use cases for Zelle, where transaction volumes are up 50% or Low Cash Mode. For example, by providing account transparency and control, Low Cash Mode has substantially reduced customer overdraft fees and related complaints. I'll close by thanking our employees for their hard work and steadfast commitment to our customers and communities. Because of our employees, we had a remarkable year and are well positioned to serve all of our stakeholders in 2022 and beyond.

And with that, I'll turn it over to Rob for a closer look at our results and then we'll take your questions.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Thanks, Bill, and good morning, everyone. Our balance sheet is on Slide 5 and is presented on an average basis. Overall, year-over-year balance sheet growth was primarily driven by the acquisition of BBVA USA. Loans grew 18%, investment securities increased 49%, and deposits grew 26%. Looking at the linked quarter changes, loans for the fourth quarter were $289 billion, a decline of $2.4 billion or 1%. Excluding $4.7 billion of PPP forgiveness activity, loans grew $2.3 billion or 1%, and I'll cover the drivers in more detail over the next few slides. Investment securities increased $7 billion or 6%, as we maintained higher purchasing activity throughout much of the quarter. Accordingly, cash balances at the Federal Reserve declined by $5 billion. On the liability side, deposit balances declined $1.6 billion, as higher commercial and consumer deposits were offset by run-off deposits related to the strategic repricing of certain BBVA USA portfolios during the third quarter and that negatively impacted fourth quarter average balances.

However on a spot basis, total deposits as of December 31st increased $8 billion or 2%, reflecting the continued strong liquidity positions of our customers. At year-end, our tangible book value was $94.11 per common share, and our CET1 ratio was estimated to be 10.2%, which are both substantially above the pro forma levels we anticipated when we announced the deal. During the quarter, we returned approximately $1.1 billion of capital to shareholders via common dividends of $500 million and share repurchases of $600 million. Given our strong capital ratios, we continue to be well positioned with significant capital flexibility going forward.

Slide 6 shows our average loans and deposits in more detail. In the fourth quarter, loans declined $2.4 billion, as growth in commercial and consumer loans was more than offset by a decline in PPP loans of $4.7 billion. Excluding the impact of PPP, commercial loans grew by $2.2 billion or 1%, driven by growth in corporate banking and asset-based lending. During the fourth quarter, we continue to see a slow and steady increase in utilization rates within our Corporate & Institutional Banking business and along with that expanded pipelines. Taken together, these factors are driving our expectations for higher loan growth in 2022. Consumer loans increased modestly linked quarter, as higher residential real estate balances were mostly offset by lower home equity and auto loans.

Finally, as I mentioned, PPP loans continue to decline due to forgiveness activity, and as of December 31st, $3.4 billion of PPP loans remained on our balance sheet. Average deposits of $453 billion declined by $1.6 billion linked quarter for the reasons I previously mentioned. Overall, our rate paid on interest-bearing deposits remained stable at four basis points. Slide 7 details the change in our average securities and Federal Reserve balances. As rates increased at the end of the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter, we continue to opportunistically add securities to our portfolio, primarily U.S. Treasuries. As a result, securities balances averaged $128 billion in the fourth quarter, an increase of $7.2 billion or 6% compared to the third quarter 2021 and now represent 26% of interest earning assets. We continue to have substantial excess liquidity with Fed cash balances averaging $75 billion during the fourth quarter, which we believe positions us well for rising rate environment.

As you can see on Slide 8, fourth quarter 2021 reported EPS was $2.86, which included pre-tax integration costs of $438 million. Excluding integration costs, adjusted EPS was $3.68. As expected during the fourth quarter, we incurred essentially half of our total anticipated deal integration costs, which reduced revenue by $47 million and increased expenses by $391 million. Since the announcement of the acquisition, we've now incurred approximately 95% of the total $980 million expected integration costs, including $120 million of write-offs for capitalized items. Excluding the impact of integration costs, linked quarter revenue was down $31 million or 1%, expenses increased $48 million or 1%, and pre-tax pre-provision earnings declined $79 million or 4%. The fourth quarter provision recapture was $327 million, reflecting continued improvements in the economic environment. Net income excluding pre-tax integration costs of $438 million was $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter.

Now let's discuss the key drivers of this performance in more detail. Turning to Slide 9, these charts illustrate our diversified business mix. Total revenue for the fourth quarter of $5.1 billion decreased $70 million linked quarter, reflecting lower non-interest income. Net interest income of $2.9 billion was up slightly, primarily a result of higher securities balances. Net interest margin was stable at 2.27%. As I mentioned, integration costs reduced non-interest income by $47 million, which included $19 million of lease exit costs, $17 million of treasury management fee waivers, and $11 million of overdraft waivers. Fourth quarter fee income excluding integration costs was $1.9 billion and declined $39 million or 2% linked quarter.

Looking at the detail, asset management fees increased $3 million or 1%, primarily related to higher average equity markets. Consumer services grew $12 million or 2% due to higher brokerage and credit card revenue. Corporate service fees increased $14 million or 2%, reflecting higher loan syndications activity, as well as continued elevated corporate advisory activity. Residential mortgage non-interest income declined $46 million, driven by lower RMSR valuation adjustments and loan sales revenue.

Service charges on deposits decreased $22 million, primarily a result of converting BBVA USA customers to PNC's product and overdraft pricing structure. Other non-interest income excluding integration costs was stable linked quarter, as the impact of $1 million positive Visa derivative fair value adjustment in the fourth quarter compared to a negative adjustment of $169 million in the third quarter was offset by lower private equity revenue.

Turning to Slide 10, our fourth quarter expenses were up by $204 million or 6% linked quarter. The growth was primarily driven by a $156 million increase in integration expenses. Excluding the impact of integration expenses of $391 million, non-interest expense increased $48 million or 1%. The growth was largely within personnel costs, driven by higher employee benefits expense, an increase in our minimum hourly rate of pay, as well as elevated incentive compensation related to strong fee activity. We had a 2021 goal of $300 million in cost savings through our continuous improvement program and we successfully completed actions to achieve that goal.

Looking forward to 2022, our annual CIP goal will once again be $300 million. Importantly, as of year-end 2021, we completed all of the actions that will drive $900 million of savings related to the BBVA USA acquisition, which we expect to be fully realized in 2022 and is reflected in our expense guidance that I will provide in a few minutes. Our credit metrics are presented on Slide 11. Non-performing loans of $2.5 billion decreased $48 million or 2% compared to September 30, and continue to represent less than 1% of total loans.

Total delinquencies of $2 billion on December 31st increased $516 million or 35%. Obviously, this was a large increase, but it was primarily driven by BBVA USA conversion related administrative and operational delays, which we expect will largely be resolved within the first half of 2022. Net charge-offs for loans and leases were $124 million, an increase of $43 million linked quarter. Commercial net charge-offs declined $5 million offset by an increase of $48 million in consumer. Inside of the higher consumer net charge-offs, auto grew $28 million and other consumer increased $13 million, reflecting conversion related impacts, as well as seasonality.

Our annualized net charge-offs to average loans continues to be low and in the fourth quarter was 17 basis points. And during the fourth quarter, our allowance for credit losses declined $471 million, reflecting continued improvements in the economic environment. At quarter end, our reserves were $5.5 billion representing 1.92% of loans. In summary, PNC reported a strong fourth quarter, which concluded a successful 2021 and we're well positioned for 2022 as we continue to realize the potential of our coast-to-coast franchise. In regard to our view of the overall economy, we expect strong growth over the course of 2022 resulting in 3.5% GDP growth. We also expect four 25 [Phonetic] basis point increases in the Fed funds rate in 2022 beginning in May followed by additional increases in June, September and December.

Looking ahead, our full-year guidance for 2022 includes the impact of 12 months of BBVA USA results compared to only seven months in 2021. Taking that into account, our outlook for full-year 2022 compared to 2021 results is as follows. We expect average loan growth of approximately 10% and 5% on a spot basis. We expect total revenue growth to be 8% to 10%. We expect expenses excluding integration expense to be up 4% to 6%. And to be clear here, this includes five additional months of BBVA USA operating expenses, which equates to a full-year increase of approximately $500 million. And we expect our effective tax rate to be approximately 18%.

Based on this guidance, we expect we will generate solid positive operating leverage in 2022. Looking ahead at the first quarter of 2022 compared to the recent fourth quarter 2021 results, we expect average loan balances excluding PPP to be up approximately 1% to 2%. We expect NII to be down approximately 1% to 2%, reflecting two fewer days in the quarter and a decline of approximately $75 million in PPP related interest income. We expect fee income to be down 4% to 6% due to seasonally lower first quarter client activity, as well as elevated fourth quarter fees in certain categories. We expect other non-interest income to be between $375 million and $425 million excluding integration costs, as well as net securities and Visa activity.

Taking our guidance for all components of revenue into consideration, we expect total revenue to decline approximately 3% to 5%. We expect total non-interest expense excluding integration costs to be down approximately 4% to 6%, and during the quarter, we expect to incur $30 million of integration expense. Finally, we expect first quarter net charge-offs to be between $100 million and $150 million.

And with that, Bill and I are ready to take your questions.


Questions and Answers

Operator

Thank you. We'll now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. Our first question comes from the line of Dave George with Baird. Please proceed with your question.

David A. George
Analyst at Baird

Hey guys, good morning. I had a question about capital and capital allocation. You obviously finished the year at 10.2% CET1, which is ahead of kind of your initial targets when you've announced BBVA, and your stock is at $2.3 [Phonetic], $2.4 [Phonetic] of tangible book, and I know you've talked about taking the cash dividend payout up. So just kind of curious, Bill, how you're thinking about capital allocation in the New Year, and then I've got one follow-up?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

You kind of answered your own question because we're consistent. All else equal in this environment, first focus on the potential of loan growth and using it the good way, a bias, strong bias towards dividend, but we'll still be in the market to repurchase shares. And I think you'll probably see us accelerate some of the things we're doing on the smaller side in terms of product activity, bolt-ons into TM and so forth. None of that -- by the way, that -- those acquisitions won't add up too much, but they become an important part of just adding core capabilities as we go into a digitized world.

David A. George
Analyst at Baird

Okay, thanks for that. On the -- and then a question on your guidance, in particular, NII. I know you mentioned you've got four hikes in there. I assume you're just using the forward curve and the securities as a percentage of earning assets up to 26%. I know Bill, you've talked about being 25% to 30%, do you expect continued liquidity deployment? Just kind of curious how much liquidity deployment is embedded in that number? Thanks.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

So our economists expects four hikes. I actually think it's going to be more aggressive than that, but I'm an outlier in our committee, and we -- the [Phonetic] only one vote, yeah, and our forecast is at this point pretty much on the forward curve at this point. I think the plan, Rob, I don't know if you want to talk to that the plan of, we're going to gradually add duration throughout the year. There wasn't any magic to it, and we didn't really build in, in Rob's guidance some assumption that we would go at it even more aggressively if rates reacted...

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

On the range that we had.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

That 25% to 30% range, Dave, still the range that's in our guidance.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

David A. George
Analyst at Baird

Okay. Thanks, fellas. Appreciate it.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Sure.

Operator

Thank you. And up next, we now have a question from the line of John Pancari with Evercore. Please proceed with your question.

John Pancari
Analyst at Evercore

Good morning, guys.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Hey, morning, John.

John Pancari
Analyst at Evercore

On the revenue guide for the full-year of 8% to 10%, I just wanted to see if you could help unpack that a little bit in terms of how you view the NII trajectory for the year, what type of growth we think is reasonable versus the trajectory on the fee income side of things given some of the dynamics you flagged? Thanks.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, sure, John. So full revenue -- full-year revenue up 8% to 10% break down those components, net interest income up low-teens, and that does factor in the rate increases that we spoke about in the comments -- opening comments, and then on the fees, mid single-digits year-over-year. So those two together gets it to the 8% to 10%.

John Pancari
Analyst at Evercore

Got it, all right, thanks. That's helpful. And then on the loan growth front, just given the 10% end of period loan growth expectation certainly implies a acceleration that you indicated that you're seeing, can you give us a little more color on the growth trends that you think is achievable on the commercial side versus consumer, and maybe what would -- what are you expecting to be the biggest drivers of that acceleration as you look at the loan book?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, sure. So, so for the full-year guide, it's 10% average, but probably a better indicator is the spot just because of the acquisition dynamics on the average number. So spot up from period end, 5%. And we see a continuation of what we started to see in the fourth quarter, which was some expanded utilization in the commercial book picking up through 2022 and then a little bit less on the consumer side. Consumer customers are still pretty flush with cash, so loan demand there certainly in the first half of 2022, we expect to be softer than the commercial side.

John Pancari
Analyst at Evercore

Got it. That helps. Thanks. Yeah, I meant to say average on the growth.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, yeah.

John Pancari
Analyst at Evercore

I appreciate the color. Thanks.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

You bet.

Operator

Thank you. And now we have a question from the line of Erika Najarian with UBS. Please proceed with your question.

Erika Najarian
Analyst at UBS

Hi, good morning.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Good morning, Erika.

Erika Najarian
Analyst at UBS

I wanted to follow up on the questions on what's embedded in the NII guide. Rob, you answered the question on what you're assuming for liquidity deployment, but what are you assuming in your NII guide about the trajectory of deposit beta and what do you think will actually happen?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Well, in terms of our guidance, Erika, what we apply in terms of beta is what we've seen in past cycles, which generally speaking will be a lag on the front end. So my expectation and what we built into the guidance is that we will see some beta increase, but not until the end of 2022 and probably be more of a factor in 2023, just because of the levels of liquidity and deposits that we have.

Erika Najarian
Analyst at UBS

Got it, okay. So if I'm comparing it to your previous deposit beta in terms of, let's say, in 2015 to 2016 -- to 2017 actually, the first 100 basis points, your guidance assumes a slower ramp than that?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

That's right. That's exactly right.

Erika Najarian
Analyst at UBS

Got it. And the second follow-up question is for Bill. One of your peers, Jamie had obviously given a guidance for higher expenses in 2022 pointing to accelerated investment spend. As we think about this 4% to 6%, is -- obviously some of this is the BBVA baseline, but how -- did you front-load some of the investment spend in 2022? In other words, as your investors start thinking about PNC's profitability in a more -- in a normalized rising rate environment, is 4% to 6% an appropriate guidepost for future growth in expenses going past 2022?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

No, no. So to unpack the guide for next year, the -- I think the PNC legacy expenses are up maybe 1%.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

The non BBVA USA. Yeah.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah. And so, did we pre-pack the investment, we've said all along that we've had a steady state and actually a fairly high level of investment in our core business. And then you'll remember in the guidance for BBVA that in the $900 million of cost saves that was a netted number against investments we are going to make to build out those markets. So inside of everything you're seeing there actually has a lot of investment already built into it.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

And, of course, our continuous improvement of $300 million offsets the investments and that's something that we've been doing for a number of years.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Erika Najarian
Analyst at UBS

Got it. Okay.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

I also think we've had -- it's worth noting, we've had some debate internally on the continuous improvement number, and can it be larger, because I think we all see opportunities in the operating environment as we move forward with BBVA. The challenge is, continuous improvement is something you know you can do, whereas right now, we're still in the process of, we know it's there, we just don't know where yet. Once we kind of lock it down and can track it, it shows up in continuous improvement.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah. And that won't stop us from going after it.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Exactly.

Erika Najarian
Analyst at UBS

Got it. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And we now have a question from the line of Betsy Graseck with Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Hi, good morning.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Hey Betsy.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Okay. So two questions, one just on how we are thinking about the reinvestment in the securities portfolio as we think about the NII guide as well, maybe you could give us a little sense of the pace that you're thinking about reinvesting, I mean, what's baked into your NII guide, because as we know, the forward curve does suggest we're going to be hitting to pretty soon. So do you wait for that or do you -- do you start to leg in even at current rates?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

We will leg in throughout the course. But remember, what's in our guide on securities doesn't dent our liquidity profile. So what we have in our guide here is kind of steady deployment working towards the 25% to 30% will add balances, it doesn't even dent the potential of what we could do with liquidity.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

With the Fed cash balances.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, yeah.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

You're still looking for that?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

So it's kind of a -- it's a baseline budget boring [Phonetic], the rates do this, we did the following. If there is -- if rates go beyond or even if we get to a place where we think rates are probably gone where they need to go not as high as I think they'll go, we could increase that, but that's not contemplated in the forecasts that we have right now.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Because am I right in thinking your target range of securities to earning assets like 25% to 30%, is that fair?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yes.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

That's right.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Okay. And then just follow up...

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

But remember -- but remember in -- remember inside of that mix, right, that's a big portfolio of securities. The big difference in the yields coming out of buying short-dated treasuries, which has been kind of our recent trade versus going further out the curve and going back towards mortgages once you assume the extension risk is taken out, massive difference in yields. So it's -- some of it's notional of security, some of it's what you're actually buying and both of those will be driven by the speed and outlook for rates over time.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Right. So what I'm hearing is baseline and the expectation, but upside as we approach kind of rates reflecting your view of full extension risk on to -- on the RMBS side?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, no, if my individual view is right, there is a lot of upside. But the forecasts that we've given you on what's kind of in our plan is steady state follow the forwards and leg in over time.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Okay.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Well, in simpler terms, the yields on the -- the yields on the securities portfolio can change a lot.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Right, right, right, right. I got it, okay. And then separately, just thinking a little bit longer-term still on the -- on the investments that you're doing, could you just give us a little bit of color as to what are you looking for in these bolt-on acquisitions to enhance your digitization, what pieces of your digitization are you looking to improve? And also is there a need for reinvestment in branches in the new geographies, where maybe you would have had a slightly different skew to the branch mix? Just trying to understand a little more detail there. Thanks.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Two very different questions. We -- as you've seen, we've done a number of small things. Tempus probably being the most interesting one, where we bring in certain payment capabilities that lead to other opportunities and we see more and more of those, by the way, we're not unique in that. A lot of banks are playing in the space, they're are not terribly expensive, but oftentimes, you get modules of technology that can be sort of bought into and then scaled across your broader platform.

So that's -- I just think you're going to see more of that as we continue to compete in the digital space for both the consumer and the corporate. On the branch side, we have plans to further, as we always do, kind of build out selectively in the markets where we're under-penetrated, but at the same time, you'll see us continue our practice of consolidating the thicker markets. So no real change there and all that's in the numbers we've given you.

Betsy Graseck
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Okay, thank you.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. And we now have a question from the line of Gerard Cassidy with RBC. Please go ahead with your question.

Gerard Cassidy
Analyst at RBC

Hi, Rob. Hi, Bill.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Good morning, Gerard.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Good morning.

Gerard Cassidy
Analyst at RBC

Can you guys give us a little color, I'm trying to figure out what we're going to be talking about in the fourth quarter earnings call for 2022 in January of 2023, and I think credit might be a subject that receives more attention then. Can you share with us your underwriting standards, how you compare them today to, let's say, at -- right at the start of the pandemic and then compare them to 2019, how they look compared to today?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Well, so you got to separate something. Our credit box per se, right, so the type of clients we lend to, the leverage they can have, all the things you would otherwise measure, we really don't change that over time. Having said that, of course, even inside of that box, companies are doing better or they are doing -- trending more poorly. I think we're going to go into a period of time here as we go towards the end of the year, where all else equal, there will be pressure on credit not because we changed our underwriting standards, but because the upgrade, downgrade ratio will change.

Rob and I were talking before the call, if you actually look at our reserve ratio, particularly when you adjust it for credit cards, I can't think of a period of time where you're kind of going into rising rate environment, which is going to help us, loan growth, which is going to help us, and feeling healthy reserves when you compare where we are versus, I'll just call it that versus the rest of the industry in terms of raw percentages against balance and you know our book through legacy performance.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

And resulting from the unique dynamics of the pandemic, so it's an unusual setup.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, yeah.

Gerard Cassidy
Analyst at RBC

Very good. And then as a follow-up, you have some decent loan growth, Rob, that you pointed to for 2022.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Gerard Cassidy
Analyst at RBC

Within the commercial growth areas, C&I, not real estate, but C&I.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Right, right.

Gerard Cassidy
Analyst at RBC

Can you share with us or give us some more color, are they coming from the newer markets that you guys have entered over the last five or six years or are you seeing early traction with the BBVA customers, maybe if you could dissect where some of that might come from in 2022?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Well, the new money out, right, so the new clients and new money that we are committing, whether it's drawn or not has accelerated for the last bunch of months and a lot of that is related to the newer markets we're in, including some big wins coming out of the BBVA markets, the utilization part, right, so the money is out now as somebody borrowing more under what line is broad-based, and if you just think about how many clients we have, it's kind of distributed across everything.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, the other thing that I'd add to that, Gerard, is that the pipelines in our commercial book are strong and in the new markets, they're are up percentage wise significantly.

Gerard Cassidy
Analyst at RBC

Very good. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. We now have a question from the line of Mike Mayo with Wells Fargo Securities. Please go ahead.

Mike Mayo
Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities

Hi.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Hey Mike.

Mike Mayo
Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities

Bill, you let off saying that BBVA has exceeded expectations, but I didn't -- I don't think I heard any changes to expense savings or synergies or anything like that. So even if you can't quantify it, can you talk about what's going better or worse than expected?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

I will look better than expected on initial deal terms is largely -- yeah, is largely the economy, right, the assumptions where we marked credit and looked at credit turned out to be wildly conservative, but that's what we saw at that point. That -- better than expected, if I look at it, I think the teams that we've been able to deploy in the market, some of the talent that BBVA had, some of the talent we were able to hire that the amount of call volume that we're having in the new markets with new products and old clients and with new products and people with new clients, all sort of wildly outpacing what we are able to do with RBC in our newer markets in the past, and then just wins showing up with clients early on.

So that's kind of all on the business momentum side and continues to give us comfort on our ability to build out the markets, the credit is a lot better than we thought. The expense guide, when we go out there and we say, we'd take $900 million, including investment and we stick to that, but to Rob's point and you guys know this of us through time, it doesn't mean that we're going to stop looking once we hit our expense guide, and I guess, I'd just leave it there.

Mike Mayo
Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities

Why -- where are you leaving it, I guess was really my question. So why not increase your expense saving target or quantify that, is that because you're reinvesting it or you're just being conservative or you're just waiting longer?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

I think the easiest way to answer that is when I was talking about continuous improvement a little while ago, Mike, we kind of know their stuff there through some metrics and some thought process today, but until we can put an action plan together, quantify it, know how we're going to measure it, I can't -- I'm not just going to throw an expense guide in there that probably is embedded, but I'm not sure.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

And I just think -- this is Rob, Mike, I just think it's premature. So we worked hard in 2021 to get that $900 million in savings into that $1.7 billion run rate. So we got to get going, and this is the getting going part.

Mike Mayo
Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities

And then, I know part of your -- you're in all top 30 U.S. markets now, and I know you want to expand. And so you did guide for, you said solid positive operating leverage for the years, I get that, on the other hand, isn't it getting a lot more expensive to hire people to help with that expansion in the new markets?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

It is, but we've largely hired them all. We hit the -- you need to understand, when we closed and then converted, we had basically the teams build out in all of these markets, Mike, so they are in our run rate.

Mike Mayo
Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities

I mean, how many people did you hire, I mean, because these are a lot of new markets and stuff, right?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, a lot of people.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

But if the extension of your question is, are we going to see wage, do we expect to see wage pressure in 2022, we do.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

And that is built into our expense guidance.

Mike Mayo
Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities

Okay, fair enough. All right. Thank you.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Sure.

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Up next, we have a question from the line of Bill Carcache with Wolfe Research. Please proceed with your question.

Bill Carcache
Analyst at Wolfe Research

Thanks. Good morning, Bill and Rob.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Good morning.

Bill Carcache
Analyst at Wolfe Research

Following up on your deposit beta commentary, how are you thinking about the risks that balance sheet run-off the potential impact it could have in this cycle versus the last one, given that it's expected to play a bigger role versus when we exited the last year of cycle?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

It's a great question and that's obviously going to impact it, and in the extreme, if they shrink their balance sheet dramatically, it obviously would impact betas and make them higher. The offset to that though is, you got to remember with loan growth, you actually create deposits, right. So if loan growth does pick up bizarrely as the Fed is dropping their balance sheet, which hasn't -- which isn't unlikely, that loan growth actually generates deposits, if you think about just the leverage on the capital, you hold for a loan and the money goes everywhere else. So I'm not sure I've iterated my way through exactly how that's going to play out other than it feels like the combination of those two things should leave us extremely liquid deposit wise for the next several years.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Which is our base expectation that we -- you've got to keep an eye on it.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

Bill Carcache
Analyst at Wolfe Research

Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. I guess continuing on that thought process, Bill, do you feel PNC is perhaps a little bit less exposed than some of the larger banks that are primary dealers and more directly involved in the creation of those deposits under the QE process?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

I don't think the system works that way. The Fed shrinks its balance sheet, you will likely see corporate cash, I don't know that you can think through it that way. I think it transmits through the banking system, and I think it hits everybody largely the same as a function of their corporate and consumer mix, but corporates behave like corporates and consumers behave like consumers.

Bill Carcache
Analyst at Wolfe Research

Got it. And then lastly, I think you touched on this, but just to put a finer point on it, if the pipelines and strong loan growth trends that you're describing persist, I guess, maybe if you could just comment on your willingness to or the extent to which that influences your willingness to take your securities portfolio as high as 30%, I guess, do you think your liquidity is sufficient to be able to do both, fund that stronger loan growth and take your securities portfolio higher or, yeah, I just wonder how does that interaction work?

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

We have plenty of liquidity to do both.

Bill Carcache
Analyst at Wolfe Research

Yeah. Got it. Thank you for taking my questions.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Thank you. And we now have a question from the line of Ken Usdin with Jefferies. Please go ahead.

Ken Usdin
Analyst at Jefferies

Hey, thanks, good morning, guys. Just wanted to follow up, Rob, I think you had mentioned when you broke down the revenue guidance that you're looking at

Mid -- fees in the mid single-digits and obviously that also includes the BBVA stuff.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, that's right.

Ken Usdin
Analyst at Jefferies

Last year was a ridiculously great year for corporate services especially, I'm just wondering underneath the surface, what do you see as being the underlying growth drivers outside of the BBVA rollover?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah. I would just say, if you're taking a look at the full-year, Ken, just going through the categories, asset management, we would expect to continue to increase in that mid single-digit range. Consumer higher than that, in part due to the addition of the BBVA franchise, but you hit it on corporate services, we had such elevated levels in 2021, our expectations for 2022 are down a bit. Residential mortgage may be up a little bit and then service charges on deposits down as we get the full-year effect of reduced overdraft fees that we expect from Low Cash Mode. So you put all that together, that's how you get to mid single-digits.

Ken Usdin
Analyst at Jefferies

Okay, got it. And then same thing in terms of just how you're thinking about that other category, is it still within the kind of zone you're thinking about for the first quarter, is that how you're thinking about it for the full-year?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

That is, yeah.

Ken Usdin
Analyst at Jefferies

Okay. One little clean-up just on securities yields, Rob, last quarter, you had that negative impact from the BBVA portfolio mark and then this quarter, it was flattish even I would think with the absence of that. So can you kind of just work us through what was the impact in the fourth quarter, if any, and are you still -- are you at the point where you're seeing better reinvestment yields?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, we're starting to. I think the investment yields is -- was the story. On the premium amortization issue at the third quarter, which was elevated, it went down in the fourth quarter, but it's still elevated over what I would consider normal levels. So that worked against us a little bit as well.

Ken Usdin
Analyst at Jefferies

Okay, understood. All right. Thanks, Rob.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Sure.

Operator

Thank you. And we now have a question from the line of John McDonald with Autonomous Research. Please go ahead, sir.

John McDonald
Analyst at Autonomous Research

Hey, guys, one more on the expenses. It's pretty impressive for the expense guide for 2022 if I look at it relative to kind of the fourth quarter annualized, it implies a quarterly run rate, it's about 5% lower, Rob. So, I guess, just kind of unpacking that, is the fourth quarter this year a little high because of the such strong capital markets revenues, and then how are you eating inflation and still getting costs to be 5% lower year-over-year when other banks are having a lot of inflationary pressures, that would be helpful?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, no, you hit it. It's definitely on the wage side in the fourth quarter, and it -- it just goes back as we go into 2022, it goes back to what we were saying earlier in terms of how we laid out the year, we have the cost saves locked in for the BBVA side, we have investments on the non-BBVA side that are largely offset by our continuous improvement numbers. So that's how we put it all together and that's the plan.

John McDonald
Analyst at Autonomous Research

Okay.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Hey, John, just because I know all of our employees are listening, we're -- this plan assumes that we are paying people competitively in a competitive market for talented people.

John McDonald
Analyst at Autonomous Research

Yeah.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

We just need to find the dollars elsewhere to be able to do that.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

That's right.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah.

John McDonald
Analyst at Autonomous Research

Okay, got it. And then one industry type question for you guys. You have a lot of reserves relative to peers mix adjusted on every basis, but we've never seen like CECL working in a loan growth environment. So just kind of you guys thoughts, as loan growth starts to pickup for the industry, could we start to see some growth math where you need to add provisions and add to reserves just for growth or is the 5% growth like contemplated in your reserves today or as loan growth picks up, do you have growth-driven provisioning?

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Yeah, I can answer that one, John. That's -- that's complex and in some instances, I don't know if we know because we haven't run CECL through an environment like that. But academically speaking, we will get to the point, where we will need to grow reserves in concert with bigger balance sheets, bigger loan balances. But we're still in this place where we're running high in terms of percentage terms, so there's going to be some offsetting factors there is my guess in 2022.

John McDonald
Analyst at Autonomous Research

Yeah, okay, fair enough. Thanks.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Sure.

Operator

Thank you. I'll now turn the conference back to Mr. Demchak for your concluding remarks. Thank you, sir.

William S. Demchak
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

All right. No concluding remarks. I know you guys are busy. Thank you for dialing, and we've got a lot of calls today. Look forward to talking to you in the first quarter. Thanks.

Robert Q. Reilly
Chief Financial Officer at The PNC Financial Services Group

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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